WWF-Canada Blog:

Congratulations to Canada’s 2014 Earth Hour City Capital!

This morning, I was proud to shake Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson’s hand and congratulate the City of Edmonton on being named Canada’s Earth Hour City Capital for 2014.


Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and WWF-Canada President and CEO David Miller celebrate Edmonton’s naming as Canada’s 2014 Earth Hour Capital
© City of Edmonton

Edmonton is a booming Canadian city and it’s already fast proving itself a national leader in sustainable city action. So I’m delighted to see the Earth Hour City Challenge jury – made up of experts from around the world – recognize Edmonton’s vision for a carbon neutral future and the practical steps its taking to achieve its ambitious goals.


© We Love Cities / WWF

It’s the perfect place to kick off WWF’s Earth Hour Tour: Out of the Dark, Into the Future – a conversation with Canadians across fields and across the country about climate solutions.  Hosted by the University of Alberta and the City of Edmonton, I’m joining a panel of city experts to envision a future where climate change is no longer a threat. We’ll be talking about what this world could look like and how cities like Edmonton are leading the way to make this vision a reality.  It’s a terrific start to this conversation, which we’ll continue in Halifax on March 21 and Toronto on March 25, and during Earth Hour on March 29, 8:30-9:30 p.m.

There has never been a more important moment to showcase the critical role that cities play in tackling climate change.  As we’ve witnessed just this past year, in places like Calgary, New York and Toronto, municipalities are where we see both climate impacts and potential.  From major floods to massive ice storms, this is where and how climate change will be experienced by everyday people.  As we see these impacts grow, cities need to prepare for a future that may look very different. They also have the opportunity to design—through infrastructure and policy decisions—a foundation for urban prosperity that is both sustainable and inclusive. These are lessons that we can learn from Edmonton.

Two other cities leading the way on this are our other Canadian finalists. I also congratulate both possible and achievable. Surrey was awarded a Special Mention by the international jury led by Christiana Figueres, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, for its increased use of renewable energy through innovative waste-to-energy solutions. The City of North Vancouver was highlighted for its commitment to going carbon neutral by 2107.

I look forward to meeting with these cities and others on March 27, when the Global Earth Hour Capital winner will be announced at an award ceremony hosted by the 2013 global champion, the City of Vancouver.  While in B.C., I will join city delegates from around the world to gather at Globe 2014 forum to share their success stories and explore ways to finance green city initiatives.

I’d like to thank all eleven Canadian city entrants to this year’s challenge and invite you to get involved. You can still vote for your favourite green city to win the We Love Cities people’s choice award until March 21.  And you can start encouraging your city to join the Challenge next year. It’s a great opportunity for all of us and the places we call to home to look at how far we’ve come together.  And a chance to be inspired and empowered by the solutions all around us, powered by cities around the world.  

  • park-avenue says:

    With all due respect to the people involved, Kristine is right. Your organization has been hoodwinked by a very biased and slanted City of Edmonton. They are very strong in deception, and often refuse to acknowledge citizen concerns.

    The City boasts a lot, but those are just words. While we may have this new “LRT” stuff happening, what they don’t tell you is the design is so flawed, and creates so many traffic disruptions, that greenhouse gases are actually increased by it.

    Then add in the worst traffic light timing of any city in Canada that I have been to… Its very common to drive a block or 2, and just as you approach the traffic light, it changes to red.

    Edmonton is WELL known to the residents, as the city where city planning is an oxymoron. Time after time after time, they come up with the most absurd plans, refuse to listen to citizen complaints, implement those plans (wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money), only to come back later and say “ops, this didn’t work”.

    Edmonton is truly the capital city of dreams. The people that live here know it. And pay for it dearly.

    Just as a foot-note to the “foot bridge” concept. People wearing a simple button saying “save our foot bridge” are not even ALLOWED to walk into City Hall. That’s how great it is here.

  • wwf_disqus says:

    Hi Kristine,

    Thank you for expressing your concerns and for your personal engagement in sustainable city development.

    The Earth Hour Challenge was designed to encourage and support the directions cities are taking to lower their carbon footprint. While we recognize that not all actions every city takes are in line with best practices in planning, the Earth Hour City Challenge is designed to focus on the overall direction and
    efforts of cities toward greener futures. The international jury of experts who select the Earth Hour City Challenge winners consider both actions taken (and their results) and actions planned – and the former are weighted
    more heavily in the judging. Also, our experience has been that cities
    that are celebrated for their sustainability plans take a greater ownership of
    these plans. We certainly hope that this recognition will only
    deepen Edmonton’s leaders’ commitment to ‘The Way We Green’.

  • Kristine Kowalchuk says:

    Dear World Wildlife Fund,

    You have just praised Edmonton for its “The Way We Green” plan. This plan is indeed excellent. The problem is, Edmonton does not follow it. Over the past few years the city has approved four new bridges through the North Saskatchewan River Valley, all of which involve the destruction of habitat and vital wildlife corridors. The latest bridge, for a subway supposed to make the city more sustainable, cuts through a designated natural area and destroys habitat of endangered and threatened animals–even though over 700 people signed a petition asking the city to make use of an existing vehicle corridor. At his state of the city speech this week, Mayor Iveson also noted how Calgary’s boundaries have changed many times, yet Edmonton’s have not changed since 1982–thereby suggesting that Edmonton, like Calgary, should encourage further city sprawl. (This echoes Mayor Iveson’s recent comment that Edmonton “might as well” simply develop all the farmland out to the airport.)
    I list below a few specific ways in which Edmonton continues to approve projects that directly counter its sustainability plans. Please look further into Edmonton’s adherence to The Way We Green, and consider qualifying your praise.

    The Way We Green, Objective 3.7: “The City protects, preserves, and enhances the North Saskatchewan River Valley and Ravine System as Edmonton’s greatest natural asset.” Really? The “Valley Line” LRT is slated to destroy a designated natural area rather than make use of an existing vehicle corridor. According to the project’s own “Summary of Residual Impacts,” “major potential adverse impacts to slopes, vegetation, and wildlife and fish habitat are predicted,” including permanent habitat loss of endangered species and disruption of wildlife corridors.

    The Way We Green, Section 1.6: In order for The Way We Green to be successful, “the City will need to…collaborate with the community [and] “facilitate the building of a strong community network that connects sustainability-minded citizens, organizations, and leaders for the purposes of sharing ideas, learning, and forming partnerships.” Really? Despite the fact over a dozen people expressed their concern regarding the environmental impact of the Valley Line on the river valley, 700 people signed a petition requesting the city use an existing vehicle corridor for LRT through the river valley, and over 1000 people like “Save Edmonton’s Downtown Footbridge’ on Facebook, the city has stubbornly refused to discuss options. The city’s LRT website in fact suggests no opposition to the Valley Line has even happened, and the mayor’s expensive campaign to pretend Edmonton is unified behind LRT continues the city’s attempt to mislead the public.

    The Way We Green is an excellent master plan. When Save Edmonton’s Downtown Footbridge asked the City last fall to explain how the Valley Line LRT adheres to this plan, the reply was “it’s just a guide.”

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